Characteristics of Underwater Ambient Noise at a Proposed Tidal Energy Site in Puget Sound

Conference Paper

Title: Characteristics of Underwater Ambient Noise at a Proposed Tidal Energy Site in Puget Sound
Publication Date:
September 20, 2010
Conference Name: Oceans 2010
Conference Location: Seattle, WA
Pages: 8
Technology Type:

Document Access

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Bassett, C.; Thomson, J.; Polagye, B. (2010). Characteristics of Underwater Ambient Noise at a Proposed Tidal Energy Site in Puget Sound. Paper Presented at the Oceans 2010, Seattle, WA.

Ambient underwater acoustics data are presentedfor one year at a potential tidal energy site in Admiralty Inlet,WA (USA) with maximum currents exceeding 3 m/s. The site,at a depth of approximately 60 meters, is located near shipping lanes, a local ferry route, and a transit area for many cetacean species. A key finding is that the statistical distribution of total sound pressure levels are dependent on tidal currents at the site. Pseudosound, cobbles shifting on the sea bed, and vibrations induced by forces on the equipment are possible explanations. Non-propagating turbulent pressure fluctuations, termed pseudosound, can mask ambient noise, especially in highly energetic environments suitable for tidal energy development. A statistical method identifies periods during which changes in the mean and standard deviation of the one-third octave band sound pressure levels are statistically significant and thus suggestive of pseudosound contamination. For each deployment, recordings with depth averaged tidal currents greater than 1 m/s are found to be contaminated, and only recordings with currents below this threshold are used in the subsequent ambient noise analysis. Mean total sound pressure levels (0.156 - 30 kHz) over all recordings are 117 dB re 1μPa. Total sound pressure levels exceed 100 dB re 1μPa 99% of the time and exceed 135 dB re 1μPa 4% of the time. Commercial shipping and ferry traffic are found to be the most significant contributors to ambient noise levels at the site, with secondary contributions from rain, wind, and marine mammal vocalizations. Post-processed data from an AIS (Automatic Identification System) receiver is used to determine the location of ships during each recording. Referencing 368 individual recordings with the distance between the ferry and the site obtained from AIS data, the source level of the ferry is estimated to be 179 +/- 4 dB re 1μPa at 1m with a logarithmic spreading loss coefficient of 18.

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